Today the Democrats got what they wanted–an opportunity to insult Condoleezza Rice. For several hours they went at it, with former Ku Klux Klan member Robert Byrd leading the charge, and Ted Kennedy weighing in in his usual bombastic, ill-informed style. The worst of all, however, was Minnesota’s own Mark Dayton:
Minnesota Sen. Mark Dayton said he is voting against Rice to protest what he labeled the administration’s “lying” about Iraq.
“My vote against this nomination is my statement that this administration’s lying must stop now,” Dayton said on the Senate floor. “I don’t like to impugn anyone’s integrity, but I really don’t like being lied to repeatedly, flagrantly, intentionally,” he said. “It’s wrong. It’s undemocratic, it’s un-American, and it’s dangerous.
“And it is occurring far too frequently in this administration. And this Congress, this Senate must demand that it stop now.”
I haven’t seen a transcript of the “debate,” nor have I seen any news account where Dayton explains what the “lies” were. I assume he means something other than Rice’s reliance on the same flawed intelligence that led John Kerry to warn of the dangers posed by Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction, and 78 Senators to vote in favor of the Iraq war. What these “lies” might be, however, I have no idea.
It’s hard to tell much about the Republican response from the news stories I’ve seen, but it appears to have been tepid. Why is it, exactly, that Republican Senators refrain from commenting on the irony of an old KKK stalwart hurling false charges at the first black woman ever nominated as Secretary of State? The Democrats have destroyed every notion of comity and protocol, not to mention truthfulness and common sense. So why do the Republicans adhere doggedly to a code of comity that the Democrats abandoned long ago? If I were in the Senate, I would not do so.
It’s hard to say what the Democrats’ strategy is. They appear bent on self-destruction, but they evidently hope to take the Republicans down with them. The positions they take are so indefensible, so charged with racism, and above all, so downright silly, that they can only reflect an astonishingly low assessment of the American electorate. Time will tell whether their strategy of mutual assured destruction will work, but for now, count me as a skeptic.
DEACON adds: I’m a skeptic too. In one sense, our politics is a zero sum game, so it’s hard for one party to take the opposition down with it. Maybe at some level, the Democrats realize how far outside the mainstream they have drifted, and think that their only hope is to demonize the Bush administration even when it means attacking attractive members like Rice. But, at best, this strategy might prevent the Republicans from routing the Democrats — it’s certainly not a path back to power. My view is that most Democrats just aren’t capable of clear, rational thought at the moment.